KC Graham: Are we going to see a repeat in the women’s 400-metre hurdles like we had in the men’s event where the howling favourite failed to advance from the preliminary round? Andre Lowe: Bershawn Jackson’s disaster is the first big shocker of the championships but some US officials said he wasn’t healthy so who knows? Unlikely that we will see a repeat among the women though. KC: By the way, who do you think is the favourite here as any of the big three, in Zuzana Hejnová, Kaliese Spencer and Shamier Little look like a possible winner here. Andre: That’s a tough question. Eight weeks ago I would have said Spencer without doubt but several things have happened since then. Hejnová is again looking like the champion she is, Little has shown she can run against the big girls and run fast and Spencer has had a few injury setbacks and that is key for me. I’d say that Hejnová is now the favourite because she looks fit and has the experience. KC: I have a very sneaky feeling that Sara Slott Petersen from Denmark could be a big spoiler here as she looked extremely good in Paris when finishing second behind Hejnová. Andre: It’s the World Champs, there is almost always a spoiler and she looks like as good a bet as any to mess up the party for the favourites. I certainly think Spencer breaks her duck and wins her first ever medal at the World Championships here. KC: Despite being unbeaten so far and being the world leader with 53.74 seconds I do not see Little winning here. I know she wouldn’t mind taking the Oregon track with her around the world as she has been unbeaten there for the past two seasons, including her World Junior win last year. I definitely think this occasion though will be too big for her but she has youth in her favour and she looks a future World and Olympic champion. Andre: Hejnová for the win. This Beijing track is bouncing, look for a fast time here, 53.1 or high 52 seconds with Spencer taking the silver and her first individual medal at a major global outdoor championships with a time of 53.5. She would have won here had she not suffered those two setbacks over the past month and a half. Third to Little but she’ll be back for more in the years to come. KC: The hurdles are about rhythm so the more you compete in this event it helps you and I am a bit concerned that Spencer has not competed in a while and she has a few flaws in the latter part of the race. Hejnová is the only sub-53 seconds athlete among the top athletes here and with her great finish she will win in around 52.96. It is going to be a bang up finish for the silver and bronze among Spencer, Little and Petersen.
Andre: We saw how competitive things were in the men’s 400 metres, and the 4x400m will certainly be another event where we could see some exciting action.KC: Yeah! Gone are the days when the United States would start as overwhelming favourites. Things have changed and it should be close-going all the way to the end.Andre: Absolutely, the gap has certainly closed between the US and the other top teams in this event and nothing is guaranteed for the Americans. This is a tough one and one that has three to four possible winners.KC: Despite the gap closing, it will be hard betting against them, though, as the athletes in their line-up have all gone sub-45 secondsAndre: They are a team with a lot of class, but there are several teams with multiple guys running sub-45, such as Trinidad and Tobago and even Jamaica. That is not such a rarity these days, so it can hardly been seen as an advantage for the Americans.KC: Trinidad and Tobago, I think, have the greatest chance of upstaging the Americans, while the likes of Great Britain, Belgium, and Jamaica will ensure that the top two are fully extended.Andre: Yes. Trinidad and Tobago have a very good crop of athletes, but they have failed to deliver in the past so I don’t trust them too much.KC: I had expected The Bahamas to be major threats, but, unfortunately, they will not be there in the final and their absence will see the United States under less pressure as they have one less top team to worry about.Andre: Good point, but The Bahamas quarter-milers have not been doing that well comparatively and, pressure or not, this USA team is primed to do well at this event, like they always do. The real battle is going to be among Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Russia, and look out for Kenya on this one.KC: The key for Jamaica here is Javon Francis, but something went wrong with him after his anchor leg in the preliminary round and if he is not good to go in the final, we can forget about getting any medal here as he is the backbone of the team.Andre: He is good to go, according to the team officials, but I don’t know if there will be any lingering effects of the injury while he is actually competing. He suffered this injury when another athlete crashed into him at the end of his heat.KC: If he is good to go and with Rusheen McDonald inserted in the team, Jamaica will definitely be a medal contenders as I think this quartet is much stronger than the one two years ago that got silver. And Francis will definitely not get the baton too far off the pack on anchor this time around.Andre: I’m picking USA for the win. I’m not sure about Trinidad and Tobago. On paper, they ought to beat Jamaica, but they hardly live up to expectations these days. USA first, Jamaica repeats their Moscow performance for the silver, and Kenya with the bronzeKC: It has not been a good championship for the United States. They surely need a win here to ensure that they stay above Jamaica on the gold-medal table and will be pumped up. With LaShawn Merritt back at his best, he should anchor them to an impressive victory. I give Trinidad and Tobago the edge for silver with Jamaica just edging out the Great Britain team for bronze.